The metabolism of dietary polyphenols and the relevance to circulating levels of conjugated metabolites

Free Radic Res. 2002 Nov;36(11):1229-41. doi: 10.1080/246-1071576021000016472.


Berry extracts rich in anthocyanins have been linked to protective effects including the modulation of age-related neurological dysfunction and the improvement of the resistance of red blood cells against oxidative stress in vitro. In this study the bioavailability, metabolism and elimination of polyphenols from blackcurrant juice, rich in anthocyanins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamates, were investigated. The four major native anthocyanidin glycosides of blackcurrant juice, delphinidin-3-glucoside, delphinidin-3-rutinoside, cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-rutinoside, were detected and identified in low amounts by HPLC and LC-MS in plasma and urine post-ingestion. Elimination of the anthocyanins was fast (maximum excretion after 1 h) and plasma levels (0-128.6 nmol/l) and total urinary exretion (0.07-1.35 mg; 0.007-0.133% of the dose ingested) were low. Most significantly, of the hydroxycinnamates, conjugated and free ferulic, isoferulic, p-coumaric, sinapic and vanillic acids were identified in plasma and urine, using GC-MS techniques. Quercetin and kaempferol (as glucuronides) and the proposed colonic metabolite of quercetin, 3-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, were detectable in a minority of subjects. Increased daily urinary hippuric, 4-hydroxyhippuric and 3-hydroxyhippuric acid levels were also observed post-ingestion in all volunteers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthocyanins / blood
  • Anthocyanins / pharmacokinetics
  • Anthocyanins / urine
  • Biological Availability
  • Biotransformation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Flavonoids*
  • Fruit
  • Gastric Juice / metabolism
  • Glucuronides / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Phenols / metabolism*
  • Polymers / metabolism*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Flavonoids
  • Glucuronides
  • Phenols
  • Polymers